You've known for a long time now that things with you were always contrary to the norm. You took a bunch of psychology classes in college trying to figure out your "human condition" but only discovered that the professionals couldn't figure you out any better than you could.
So you eventually gave up trying to figure yourself out and fell into this thing you referred to as "neutral existence" and dropped out of school. It wasn't doing nil for you anyway.
In your neutrality anything that happened, either good or bad, was considered a transitory occurrence that meant little and gave life to no firm emotion. Your friends considered you to be laid back and without worry. They told you they wanted to be just like you and not be bound by earthly emotion. They wanted to be like you and not care about anything.
Their words upset you. Do you really not care about anything?
You read books. You read a lot of books trying to figure out if you've actually achieved a status of transcendence or if it's something else. The books don't have any answers but you discover a few quotes on subjects that will make you sound smart when talking in public. The quotes you write down in a black diary and you work on this diary for hours making it look perfect.
When you finish you don't feel like you've accomplished anything. There are all these new words and ideas in your vocabulary, but they seem empty. You almost feel like you've wasted your time and decide to enter into a new phase of your development.
Like changing into a new costume for Halloween you put on your new face with ease. It's time for you to be a different person.
Everyone and everything evolves. That's what you can tell your friends when they ask you what the hell happened. It's basic Darwinian Theory; you tell them and suggest they read up on the literature.
They all look at you strangely and treat you differently at first, but then they get used to the spiky hair and facial piercings and treat you like they did before. They tell you that you're essentially the same underneath. One friend compares you to a book cover of different editions. She says that the cover changes but the story is the same. You point out that the different editions are supposed to be better. She answers your comment with silence.
Your boss tells you that you're scaring your customers. You tell him he can go fuck himself. Soon after your outburst you are fired.
You talk yourself into believing that you really didn't need the job. It's retail and it is in your strong belief that retail sucks the soul out of any person involved in it. You had to work long hours and were starting to hate all your customers. This hate was accompanied with the burning desire to follow some of them to their cars and slash all their tires.
As a matter of fact, you did this once and got away with it. You contemplated doing it again, but decided that there was no way you'd be lucky enough to get away with it again. Your life just doesn't work that way.
You go exactly one week and six days without having any regret about your job situation. You just happened to have been fired on pay day.
All your money is gone. You used to be good with saving money when you were a different person, but the person you are now realizes that life is short and there's no point in saving for a life you may not live to see. Without others depending on you for support, it was easy to use up every paycheck on frivolity. It was doubly easy when you still had a source of income.
After going a couple more weeks without money and with too much time on your hands and not enough brain power to come up with a make it rich quick scheme, you lift yourself up off your couch and leave your small apartment. As you leave you're careful to avoid the landlord because rent was due a month ago and you've run out of lies to tell the man. There are only so many times you or a family member of yours had a medical emergency that only you could pay for.
You think about taking your car, but realize cars run on gasoline and gasoline costs money, money which you don't have. You didn't really know how far you were going to go, but now you know you'll probably not make it out of your neighborhood. Walking takes up more energy then you had planned on using when you decided to go somewhere.
You make it out of the parking lot and for some reason get this incredible urge to run. It's not the urge to run anywhere specific, it's just the urge to run.
It takes you a while to give into it, but you eventually do. You clench your fists together and explode from the cement letting your legs dictate your direction. Your eyes even close because they're not guiding you. Something deep within or deep without is pulling you towards somewhere and because you don't have? anything you let it guide you.
Your black leather boots are pounding on the pavement protesting the abuse, but you keep running. Your lungs start to burn, but you keep running. You can't even remember the last time you ran so hard. You always hated running with a passion. It was always pointless to you. You could never understand why people ran around in a circle because they never went anywhere. They would run their hearts out and would always end up where they started.
You always saw higher meaning in a lot of things.
Then again, you often thought too much about everything.
With lungs now gasping desperately for air and muscles aching from the sudden demand put on them, you start to slow down. Eventually you come to a complete stop and take a look around to see how far you've gotten.
At first you don't recognize this place. It has changed a lot since last you stepped foot here. You left here running.
Bent over and gasping for air you drop your head. Instead of staring at what is in front of you, you look to the ground. You look to the cemented sidewalk that looks like any other sidewalk you've ever seen, except for two sets of initials in the corner of the block followed by the youthful scribblings of an empty promise: "Friend's Forever".
It doesn't take much energy to bend down even further and rub your left hand across the writing in cement. It feels smooth to the touch, even after all these years.
Suddenly you're crying and don't quite understand why. These words mean nothing to you now. You've gotten past this useless sentiment and you've become a different person. You're now a person who would never think of making marks on wet cement. You're now a person who would never think of making a promise from a heart that refuses to submit to the notion of logic and knowledge.
The door to the house you've been standing in front of opens. You hesitate to look up afraid that the odds will be with you this time and you'll see the one person you never wanted to see again in you lifetime.
The man at the door asks if you need help with anything.
You are equally disappointed and relieved that he is not the person that you thought should have opened that door.
After running your hands over the carvings one last time you stand up and you tell the man that you used to live here. He smiles and asks you questions that you're not comfortable asking. He asks about your childhood and he asks why you moved away. He asks you if you were happy here.
The answers you give are for conversational purposes only. They consist of small uncomplicated words. You had a happy childhood. You moved because you grew up. You were happy here. What you leave unsaid has been unsaid for a long time now.
He offers to give you a tour of the house. He's made some changes since he's lived here. You think more about accepting this offer than you have thought about anything since you left this place.
You know perfectly well there's nothing here for you now. There's nothing for you here now? now just not then.
You tell the man that you're not going to take him up on his offer. You have other things to do and other places to be. You tell him that you were just passing through as you were out for a run. You tell him you like working out in jeans and a button down dress shirt.
He smiles and is smart enough to not question your sanity.
You sneak one last look at the cement and this time the man follows your gaze. He tells you that the young woman who sold him the house her parents had died and she couldn't keep up with the place. He couldn't quite remember where she happened to be living now.
The information is like a bullet penetrating your heart. You ache to know the full story but know that this kind soul has told you everything that he can. There are no answers left in this place. There's not much but memories that are left here.
It's time for you to go now. You say your goodbyes to the man and head off not in the direction you came from, but in some direction that isn't back to your empty apartment and empty life.
You feel like running again but your body is just too tired to try and do a repeat performance. You're thirsty and you can feel a headache coming on. Your body is calling out for you to sit and rest, but now you're just set on going in this one direction. You're set on going further away from your home and your former home.
Your mind is starting to play tricks on you now. You're seeing your past like you're still living in it.
Sometimes your memories can be so vivid and so painful.
It started with your mother dying. No one ever told you how she died. It happened all so suddenly. The people came and settled all the affairs that you were too young to take care of. All the people took care of everything but you. No one knew what to do with you. No one had room for a pre-teen who had just lost their only parent. They were all too absorbed in their lives to think of yours.
So you got put in the system. So you tried to hold on to who you were, but you quickly learned you couldn't survive that way. You had to be mean, you had to be hard, you had to be a survivor and think only of yourself. You had to make trouble because that was the only way you got noticed.
And you did get noticed. You got noticed by a woman and her husband who decided that they wanted to teach you to survive without being hard. They wanted to teach you that life could be better than what you thought.
They took you to their home and introduced you to their daughter and made you a part of their family. They made good on all their promises and earned your trust. You became best friends with their daughter. You became best friends and eventual lovers.
It worked out really well for a while. It worked out the best for a while.
Then like most things in your life, it all fell apart. You were "outed" in school and you became a social outcast. No one wanted to have anything to do with you any more. Even your foster parents had words of malice to offer you. They wanted to know how you could do something like that to them after all they had done for you. They were angry. They were so very angry. They thought that you corrupted your best friend into something sinful.
Their words cut you deeply. They hurt you and there was nothing you could do but to hurt them back. You were going to show them that you didn't need them at all. You didn't need to give them time to settle down. You didn't need to try and have a civilized conversation. All you needed to do was to lash out and hurt them.
It was hard to figure out what you could do to punish them, but eventually you came up with an idea. You would steal their car and all the money they had in the house. You would take all the material possessions that meant anything to them and you would run away.
For some reason your teenage mind thought that living on the streets would make them feel sorry and you'd be punishing them for their words. Your teenage mind forgot to consider that living on the street would be much harder on you than their guilt could ever be on them.
You lasted exactly four months on the street before they came and found you. Your body was hardly in any condition to protest when they took you back to their home. Your mind was hardly in any condition to fight them when they told you they were going to take care of you and that they were sorry.
They actually cared for you, but you never forgave them. You could never bring yourself to forgive any of them, not even your very first and only love. She had turned on you just like everyone else had.
The first thing you did when you were old enough was to leave and to never look back. You didn't need those people at all. You were a survivor and you would survive without them. You'd show them.
Well you've been showing them now for the last five years, and now your foster parents are dead and they could care less about you showing them anything. Defiance it would seem was a pretty useless thing for you. You never accomplished to successfully defy anything but your own heart.
Suddenly, you're extremely tired of being everything but who you are.
There's a strip of paper in your wallet that you put there a long time ago. You stop walking and reach in your pack pocket and pull out your wallet. You open it up and pull the strip of paper out. The ink has begun to fade and the paper has become brittle.
After looking at the paper for a very long moment you take a deep breath and put it back in your wallet. You put your wallet back in your pocket and you continue walking. This time you have actually chosen a direction and a path.
You think you've never walked so much in your life, but you continue to walk. You don't even think about stopping.
Your final destination is finally reached and you find yourself knocking on the door of an apartment with the number 1024 written in golden numbers on the door. You stand their rocking back and forth on your feet trying to push down your nervousness.
You don't recognize the woman that opens the door so you ask to see if the apartment you have is the correct one. The woman smiles and tells you that you've got the right place. She offers to let you in but you tell her that you're going to wait outside for the person you came for to come to the door.
Your heart is beating so rapidly you think that you might pass out. You probably should have passed out from dehydration an hour ago, and you're not too sure how much more your body can take.
The woman gives you an odd look but acquiesces to your request. She goes back into the apartment closing the door softly as she goes. You turn your back to the apartment's entrance and walk over to the steps that are in front of the door. You sit down on the top step and run your hands through your hair.
You hear the door open and close, but don't dare to look behind you. You're not ready to look yet, so you close your eyes. You feel someone sit down next to you, but you still don't open your eyes.
"I didn't think that I'd ever see you again."
"That makes two of us."
"So why are you here now?"
There are a thousand ways you could answer that question, because there are a thousand reasons why you are here. You choose to go with the answer that means the most to you. "I wanted to know if that friends forever thing was still worth anything."
Your eyes are still closed but you can tell she's crying. You can hear it in her voice and smell her tears in the air. "It's worth more now than it ever was."
You give a slight nod. "You've got your life now and I know that. You've probably got kids and a family and everything that you've always deserved. I don't want to take any of that away from you; I just want to be part of you again." It's not as hard to say as you thought it would be. You even dare to wonder why you didn't do this before.
"I don't have kids," she says softly. "And I don't have a family. I didn't want anything if I couldn't have it with you."
You can't find words for that kind of love so you don't even try, but you do open your eyes and quickly realize that you've found yourself.